Category: Immersion Trips

From a Host Partner’s View: Beth Virostek

Hi, I’m Beth Virostek, a sophomore Psychology and Faith & Social Justice major from Columbia, Maryland. On campus I serve as the Operations and Logistics Chair on the Missional Engagement Council this year! 

This summer I had the absolute joy of working full-time as a summer staff member with the Appalachia Service Project, one of our host partner organizations! I spent two weeks in training at the year-round center in Jonesville, Virginia, and then with my staff of four lived for almost eight weeks in a preschool in Louisa, Kentucky, the heart of Lawrence County. With teams of visiting volunteers offering their labor, we were able to help 10 families make their homes a little warmer, safer, and drier in six short weeks.

The Appalachia Service Project is a home repair ministry that deeply loves people and builds connections and relationships with ‘a little construction on the side.’ A ministry that holds dear its founder’s statement that “We accept people right where they are, just the way they are.” After serving as a volunteer for a week each summer during my four years in High School, I was already in love with Appalachia and all it has to offer. I could not wait to follow in my brother’s footsteps and join staff in college. However, there is a large difference in being a week long volunteer and being a summer staffer. Being a summer staffer involves a lot more responsibility, including learning all about and advising construction projects, leading teenage and adult volunteers in programming throughout their week, and juggling situations that I had never considered would occur. 


My eight weeks in Lawrence County, KY included some of the most joyous celebrations and sweet glimpses of heaven that I have ever encountered yet also some of my most stressed and defeated moments. Through this experience I learned the reality of some of the difficulties and realities that missions and nonprofit organizations like our host partners with Belmont on Mission face. Budgeting, communicating with volunteers, and loving well the people we encounter, and many more things are hard. 

It is not easy telling a family who is so deserving of a new, leak-proof roof over their heads that we are unable to help them this summer due to time, volunteer, and budget limitations. It is not easy trying to lead volunteers through fixing a leaking roof in a week full of thunderstorms. It is not easy driving a 12 passenger van filled with lumber down narrow and steep roads for the first time. It is not easy making deep relationships in a week, or even in six weeks, with people you have never met before. It is not easy, but it is deeply worth it. 

It is worth it to wake up every day and see teenagers have a drastic change of perspective of the world in a week. It is worth it to see the joy of a mother who can worry a little less about the electrical bills and spend more time loving and raising her kids. It is worth it to watch people who would not know each other in different circumstances come together over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and share a meal together. It is worth it to watch the joy of an older woman walk down her new ramp to the mailbox instead of struggling on the stairs. It is worth it to watch kids take a bath in their new bathtub, one without a hole in the bottom any longer. It is worth it to rest knowing that a family no longer has to worry about putting out buckets each time it begins to rain in order to catch the rainwater that leaks through their roof. I’ll spare you my continued pages of why it is worth it with this: It is profoundly worth it to serve. It is profoundly worth it to fall in love with a small town and its residents in just eight short weeks. It is profoundly worth it to work with a host partner organization, and for this experience I am forever grateful. 


Atlanta – End of Week Recap

When we got to Atlanta we did not know what to expect. Atlanta is such a big city and there’s so much to do there. We met with our partnering host, Anquette and she helped us get settled in at the church. We had an orientation about DOOR and what it means to have a “serving is a lifestyle” mindset. She also told us that words can affect people in different ways so instead of referring to homeless people as homeless people, we call them our friends without homes. We did some exploring our first day and learned a little about the history of Atlanta. We visited the MLK Center, Center for Civil and Human Rights, and also the Atlanta Zoo. Our first service day, we helped serve our friends without homes food at Action Ministries, a women’s community kitchen. The women were so excited to see us and were grateful that we were there serving them. We served them a hot meal and dessert and we did it restaurant style to show hospitality.

Our next service site we went to was the Lost-n-Found Thrift. There we learned the history about how they started and the population they seek to serve. This organization serves members of the LGBTQ community, ages 18-24 and provides tons of services to them. We helped sort clothes, organize sizes, as well as tag them and put them on racks. 

On Wednesday, we went to Mercy Church which was the groups favorite. We went in with the intent to do some work but the pastor just wanted us to talk to our friends without homes. So we did, we met so many different people with awesome personalities. A big takeaway from this experience was that the group saw that no matter their (our friends without homes) circumstances, our friends knew that God was doing something great for them in their future. They kept happy thoughts and were really excited we were talking to them. One of our friends said that he was really grateful that we were talking to them because most of the time people never talk to them. We got to serve them breakfast, we got to worship, and eat lunch with them. We even wrote haikus about St. Patrick’s Day with them. As a student leader, I truly saw the students grow during this moment. There was no comfort zone, we were all family.

Our last site was fun. We went to Gillian’s Farm and met with Farmer P who showed us how to pull turnips and shovel mulch. We also got to feed goats and a sheep. Farmer Peducated us on the importance of growing your own food and how beneficial it is. He enjoyed having us and told us that the turnips we pulled would be donated at an event later on this month. 

I can say that this experience was the bombdiggity. I really appreciate all the students and their willingness to be open-minded about the work we did and how it resonated with what God has planned for us in our future. We all hope to keep serving is a lifestyle apart of our lives from now on.

El Paso – Midweek Update

I once heard that “you can’t hate someone whose story you know.” The El Paso trip is about coming to know the stories of our neighbors more than anything else. To bear witness to the difficulties in their journeys, the complexities of the systems through which they are processed, and the hope and faith that they cling to in the midst of it all.

On Monday night, a warm older woman named Carmen came to the church we are staying at to teach us how to make gorditas and share her own story with us. I watched as she expertly placed the masa in the oiled pan to fry, and spoke with her in Spanish in short turns. Making a meal alongside along another immersion group from the University of South Florida with Carmen was a lesson in patience as the entire first two Spanish dubbed Madagascar movies played in the background during the time that we were cooking. After lunch, she spoke to us with the help of our hostess translating of the journey which she has endured as an immigrant. Seeking medical treatment for her adopted daughter, Carmen left Juarez, Mexico and came to El Paso. Tears formed in her eyes as she spoke of doctors who appeared as “angels” and gave her daughter the kidney transplant she needed without the sufficient funds or health insurance, and of the process of getting documents which she had not originally intended to pursue. The profundity of her faith shone as she told us about entrusting her child to God in her child’s very hour of death, pulling all of us students into a sacred and beautiful space with her. “It is not God who has created divisions,” she told us, “it is people who have created divisions. To God, it does not matter if you are Mexican or Chinese or American. He loves everyone.”

Some of the other stories we have come into contact with are refugee families who are being hosted for a night or two by churches in the area of Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. These families who are seeking asylum in the United States have just been released from the detention centers they have been held in and are about to embark on a journey to another part of the country where they will live with a host family, awaiting a trial in immigration court. These church and non-profit organization volunteers provide a place to stay, some basic resources, and help organize the travel arrangements to the host families. On the weekends, a La Quinta Inn allows these churches to organize hotel rooms for the families to stay in, and during the week, they are hosted on air mattresses in one of the rooms of a church. Volunteers help pass out donated supplies such as clothing, shoes, and plastic bags with various toiletries, as well as make meals for them. As a group, we have gotten the opportunity to serve two meals so far, one of which we cooked ourselves, to these families. Embodying solidarity, we eat alongside them and use what little or much Spanish we know to speak to them and let them know that they are seen and heard.

On Tuesday morning, we also witnessed formal snippets of immigrants’ stories through a Federal District Court’s proceedings of criminal cases. We watched defendants hear their charges for such things as “illegal entry without inspection,” which is entering the country at a place other than an official port of entry, and “reentry of a removed alien,” which is entering the country again after an individual has been deported in the past. These men pled guilty, and were led out in handcuffs to eventually be “removed from the United States, denied citizenship, and denied admission to the United States in the future.”

An immersion trip to El Paso is an immersion into stories, the realities of our neighbor’s lives, and an education on the deep complexity of the issues and experiences encountered along the U.S./Mexico border. Hearing and seeing stories help us become informed, and spark our compassion for our brothers and sisters in the borderland regions who, as Carmen called it, “live in the shadows.”

— Hannah Rae Melis, El Paso Trip Student Leader

Student Take: Devanie Coombs

Today we have Devanie Coombs talking about her anticipation to serve with DOOR in Denver over spring break!  We are so excited for you to read about Devanie’s heart for missions!

“Hello everyone! My name is Devanie Coombs and I am a Neuroscience major that is going on the Denver Belmont on a Mission.

For me, I serve in our community around Nashville doing elementary outreach with the neuro program or serving our community through mentorship/giving back with my time. What is interesting is that I have never been on a mission’s trip. I am excited to go on the Denver trip because I get to be emerged in a community that needs help, explore my faith and how I can impact Denver’s community through Jesus, and finally, I get to go on this trip with various honors and neuroscience individuals that care about serving and want to express their faith.

For me, this trip is a chance to explore a region I have never been too, see the need of the people I have never met, strengthen my faith in God through serving him, and traveling outside of Nashville, where I have grown up in.”

If you have any questions about upcoming mission trips or Belmont on Mission in general, please reach out!

Trip Spotlight: DOOR Network – Denver, CO

Earlier this semester, we posted a host partner organization spot light on the DOOR Network.  DOOR is an amazing ministry which connects students and teams with their broad network of nonprofits and churches in cities around the country to cultivate long lasting, impactful, and effective change.  DOOR has multiple programs located around the country in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Miami.  Each program base has specific curriculum that brings the cultural context into account.  This spring break, we have two opportunities to serve with DOOR.  One group will travel to Atlanta, GA and one group will be traveling to Denver, CO.

Denver, CO is a very interesting city, home to a large population of refugees as well as a very welcoming community.  Political leaders have made it a goal for the city to support as many refugees as possible, and it is through the work of volunteers through organizations like DOOR. DOOR is “dedicated to providing life-changing experiences for our participants rooted in relationship and solidarity with local communities and neighborhoods.”  Belmont on Mission is so excited to be partnering with such a great organization.

While in Denver, students will spend time serving with a variety of local agencies and ministries and learning through evening speakers and activities. The experience is about more than preparing a meal at a soup kitchen or playing with children at a day camp. It is an opportunity to work alongside local community members, to learn from local leaders, and to listen to the stories of neighbors, clients, and churches.  Students will be working in a young, thriving neighborhood which, unfortunately, it is not immune to the issues of poverty, police brutality, and low performing schools.  In this, Belmont gets to partner with DOOR in community development and immersion in such a beautiful community.

If you have any questions about DOOR or any upcoming Belmont on Mission trips, please reach out!

Student Take: Calla Quinn

Today, Calla is sharing about her experiences so far serving in Tennessee, and her anticipation in serving with Border Servant Corps in El Paso, TX over spring break. We are excited for you to hear Calla’s take on preparing to go on Mission with Belmont on Mission!

“I grew up in church and have had experience serving primarily in the Nashville area. Never having been on mission out-of-state, I am equally excited and curious to go on Immersion to El Paso!

I chose this trip for several reasons, but what first caught my attention was the circumstances of the people we’ll be serving. As a pre-law student interested in immigration policy, I was drawn to this trip in particular because I know it will provide me with insight and fuel my passion for serving the underserved. The opportunity to encounter such a divisive subject in a fiercely direct and personal way will offer me a broader perspective and help me better understand the cultural and political dynamics surrounding this issue.

That being said, there are plenty of things about this trip that scare me (in a good way). I know I am going to experience things that push me out of my comfort zone and leave me with more questions than answers. Many of the folks with whom I’ll interact are living as marginalized people in every capacity; racially, culturally, and economically they are frequently categorized as “unwanted.” I hope to unlearn my ignorance through this trip by navigating uncharted waters. Most of all, I hope to grow in my relationship with God by learning and developing the ways in which I’m called to show others His love.”

If you have any questions about Calla’s experience, Belmont on Mission, or any upcoming trips, please reach out!

Host Partner Spotlight: Border Servant Corps

Each spring, many Belmont students choose to spend their spring breaks on a mission trip with Belmont on Mission. Some students participate in Immersion trips, which are a chance to be immersed in a local culture and to grow in understanding of the cares and concerns of communities here in the United States. Students have the opportunity to see what God is doing through domestic churches and ministries, and join them in awareness and mission.

In just under two months, students will work with Border Servant Corps in promoting and demonstrating justice, kindness, and humility. This will be achieved through the exploration of community, simplicity, social justice, and spirituality in the U.S./ Mexico border region. In every interaction, Border Servant Corps functions out of the call in Micah 6:8 to “Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly.”

Students will travel to El Paso, TX to experience accompaniment-style immersion, during which they engage relationship and first-hand educational experiences about border issues, and community engagement, ensuring that members of the community are also engaged and immersed in the education and service of the borderlands.

Border Servant Corps seeks to love those who are in the midst of trying times, and educate those who have the ability to serve them. If you have any questions about Border Servant Corps or upcoming Immersion trips, please reach out!

Student Take: Tayviana Scott

We asked Tayviana to write a bit about her experiences so far as she has served with Belmont on Mission, and as she prepares to serve this March in Atlanta with DOOR Network.  We are excited for you to read Tay’s take on serving God through serving in the Kingdom.

“Growing up I went to church every Sunday, but as I got older and life began to change I didn’t go as much. When I started school at Belmont all the freshman got an opportunity to participate in PLUNGE, a four-day fall break immersion experience for first-year students. I had never heard of mission work before then, so I was very excited about doing God’s work. After such an amazing experience partnering with the Medici Project, I wanted to do more.

In the Fall of 2017 I led my first mission trip ever to Indianapolis. I was very nervous, but my two other team leaders and awesome staff leaders helped a lot. We partnered with Shepherd’s Community and served around their community.

In the Spring of 2018, I joined some other students on a mission trip to Acuña, Mexico partnering with Casas Por Cristo. My favorite moment from this trip was the reaction from the oldest daughter of the family we were helping when she saw the tattoo I have on my wrist. Her eyes got really big and she smiled from ear to ear. She snatched my wrist and ran towards her family, dragging me behind her to show them. The next day we came back to finish working on their house, she had came home from school to show me her wrist where she had tried to replicate my tattoo on herself with a marker. My heart swelled and right then, I knew that interacting with people while serving God is what I should be doing.

In the fall of 2018, I lead another mission trip to Memphis, TN partnering with Serve 901. Seeing how many opportunities there were for people to come and serve filled my heart with joy. I know that anytime I feel like serving there is always a place to go.

I am really excited about partnering with DOOR Network. From doing a bit of research I feel like the students and I are going to have a great time serving in Atlanta. I love to keep an open mind about places and organizations I know little information about so the experience feels real.”

If you have any questions about Tay’s experience, Belmont on Mission, or upcoming Immersion, International, or Plunge trips, please reach out!

Host Partner Spotlight: DOOR Network

Every spring break, Belmont students have the opportunity to serve on a mission trip with Belmont on Mission. One type of trip that Belmont on Mission has to offer is an Immersion trip. Immersion trips are a chance to be immersed in a local culture and to grow in understanding of the cares and concerns of communities here in the United States. Students will have the opportunity to see what God is doing through local churches and ministries, and join them in awareness and mission.



This March, students will join with Door Ministries in Denver and Atlanta as they discover new and exciting opportunities for outreach and reflection in two growing cities. The DOOR Network is a faith-based nonprofit that works throughout the nation to cultivate flourishing communities. They are “dedicated to providing life-changing experiences for our participants rooted in relationship and solidarity with local communities and neighborhoods.”

As a unique opportunity to learn and serve, Door’s Atlanta and Denver programming helps groups to spend time serving with a variety of local agencies and ministries and learning through evening speakers and activities. The experience is about more than preparing a meal at a soup kitchen or playing with children at a day camp. It is an opportunity to work alongside local community members, to learn from local leaders, and to listen to the stories of neighbors, clients, and churches.

The Atlanta experience is centered around the question “who is our neighbor?” Door uses teaching from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as other writers and theologians, to look at this question in biblical context. Students will learn about the role of Atlanta in the Civil Rights movement, and even get the chance to visit the King Center to see how, today, Atlanta remains one of the greatest centers of social justice, activism, and human rights.

The Denver experience will give students the opportunity to gain a better understanding and broader perspective on the roots of problems plaguing the Denver area like poverty, police brutality, and low performing schools. Students with work with various agencies that Door has connected with in order to best serve the community, and “make a change to bring heaven to earth, through love and justice.”


Door’s mission to open the door for individuals and groups to “encounter the city through the eyes, ears, and heart of God” is perfect for any student wishing to learn more about his or her place in God’s Kingdom. If you have any questions about the DOOR Network, or upcoming Immersion trips, please reach out!